What are Bone Spurs on the Spine?

Bone spurs on the spine are small formations of excess bone that sometimes cause chronic neck or back pain, among other similar symptoms. These growths, which are also known as osteophytes, often develop in the aftermath of a traumatic injury and are also an extremely common side effect of the spinal deterioration and arthritis that comes with age. In and of themselves, spinal bone spurs are not symptomatic or problematic, but when a bone spur causes irritation of a spinal nerve, the spinal cord, or any nearby soft tissue, painful symptoms can develop. What’s more, the underlying cause of the bone spur may also lead to discomfort.

The formation of osteophytes as it relates to disorders of the spine

Bone spurs are often seen as a result of facet disease in the neck or back. This type of osteoarthritis is extremely common among older individuals and is usually caused by nothing more than the natural aging process. In a healthy spine, adjacent vertebrae are interconnected at vertebral joints known as facet joints. These structures are coated in a thin layer of cartilage and encapsulated in a lubricating fluid, which gives the joints their strength and flexibility. The problem is that over time this cartilage has a tendency to become thinner and more fragile as a result of years of wear and tear. When this happens, painful bone-on-bone contact can occur, and the body’s natural defensive mechanism is to form bone spurs in the deteriorated joint.

Treatment options

While bone spurs don’t cause symptoms themselves, they can cause significant discomfort if they irritate soft tissue or a nerve in the region. In most cases, treatment of a spinal bone spur is first attempted conservatively with a regimen of non-surgical techniques, including:

  • Low-impact exercise
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Hot/cold compresses
  • And more

The goal for treatment is to relieve the patient’s pain and improve or maintain spinal flexibility. In the event that this approach fails to deliver acceptable results, Laser Spine Institute might be able to help with one of our minimally invasive procedures. To learn about your options and determine your candidacy for our treatments, contact us today.